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Sandi Jackson: I'm picking my own replacement for alderman

Alderman Sandi Jackstalks with mediCity Council meeting Wednesday October 3 2012. l John H. White~Sun-Times

Alderman Sandi Jackson, talks with media at City Council meeting, Wednesday, October 3, 2012. l John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 19, 2013 2:22PM



Sandi Jackson assured her faithful supporters that she was still large and in charge as she signed off as the 7th Ward alderman Tuesday night.

It was almost symbolic that Jackson, who commuted from Washington, D.C., to represent the South Side ward, said goodbye by telephone.

Media were barred from the gathering, but the alderman’s remarks were recorded by someone in the room with a cellphone who turned it over to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised that his first aldermanic appointment would be based on a transparent community process, Jackson all but declared her chief of staff, Keiana Barrett, as her successor.

“From an insider’s point of view, Mayor Rahm may say he wants to have interviews. The people he will interview will be the people I am suggesting,” Jackson told the gathering made up mostly of precinct workers. “They are interviewing people in the community, but they do that to calm people down. People want to have their input. But for the most part, they turn that matter over to the alderman.”

On Tuesday, Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported that Barrett was under consideration as Jackson’s replacement until it was discovered that she doesn’t live in the ward.

Jackson told supporters that Barrett would be appointed after the residency issue is resolved.

“We are going to be able to move forward according to state law,” Jackson said.

One mayoral source laughed when I shared Jackson’s comments about selecting her successor.

“As the mayor outlined yesterday, there will be a comprehensive process to identify a replacement to serve Chicago’s 7th Ward,” said Tarrah Cooper, the mayor’s press secretary, in an email.

“He is seeking a candidate with a strong record of community engagement and involvement throughout the ward. Starting next week, any eligible resident of the 7th Ward will be able to submit their credentials for consideration to be alderman,” Cooper wrote. “Additionally, the Mayor will appoint a community-based commission to review the applications and submit three finalists for him. Our expectation is that the new alderman is sworn in by mid-February so the residents of the 7th Ward will be represented in City Council for the next meeting.”

But Jackson, whose name has been linked to federal investigations into her husband’s campaign fund, indicated that Barrett is virtually a shoe-in.

“She understands how that aldermanic office works. She understands how the campaigning apparatus works . . . She already has an existing relationship with the mayor and the mayor’s staff,” Jackson told the group.

Jackson also noted that all of the furnishings for her ward office at 71st and Exchange were bought with campaign dollars.

“That means the city does not own any of the furniture that you are currently sitting on, any of the furniture that is in the campaign office, any of the furniture that is in the aldermanic office. I bought every item personally, and if the mayor upholds my wishes, everything in that office will stay the same. Keiana will inherit everything,” Jackson said.

Jackson could not be reached for comment.

But in an interview Wednesday, Barrett said she could not recall exactly what Jackson said about the looming aldermanic appointment.

“I don’t recall any of that. I am interested in learning what the mayor’s appointment process will consist of. That is where my focus is now, and ensuring there is continuity in the ward,” she said.

“There was a question proposed about residency in general and what is required, but there was no clarity about how appointments work.”

However, Jackson specifically told the group that the mayor’s people were investigating “case law” as to whether or not the mayor could appoint someone living outside the ward, and that person could move into the ward later.

If Barrett decides not to step up, Jackson told the group she also had recommended the Rev. Scott Onque, pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church at 7262 S. Coles, as a replacement.

“It is important that everything stays the same. We have to have the same continuity, the same flow. Should the mayor go against my wishes and decide to appoint somebody I do not agree with . . . ” said Jackson, specifically naming past opponent Darcel Beavers, “I will not share those resources and I will find somebody to run against that person. I will disband that office before I let another Beavers supporter come back and take it over.”

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